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You Pays Your Money And You Takes Your Choice

May 26th, 2015

WattBlog-BlogHave you come across Wattpad? I just discovered it a couple of days ago and … I’m in two minds. Where I can see there’s definitely something interesting going on, I’m not really sure it’s for me.

Wattpad is a Canadian based story-sharing website, like a Facebook or Youtube for writers. Stories and poems are shared in over fifty languages, and the stat’s for membership and reading are quite impressive: 40 million users per month with an average user session of thirty minutes. Readers are encouraged to post comments about work they’ve read, writers have profile pages where you can message them privately, and there are a number of Forums where both writers and readers join in extended conversations. Generally, from what I can see, people are serialising novels and putting them up one chapter at a time. Some attract thousands of readers, and one I noticed – Flawed by someone calling themselves bnflan has been read an enormous 2, 410, 414 times.

All sounds good. But still, I have my reservations – mainly, that none of these writers are being paid. When I click on a story to read it, at the end of every page a little advert pops up (I just saw one for the Residential Landlords’ Association, another for NetBet casino.) Now, where there’s advertising, money is surely changing hands. So why aren’t the writers getting any? Especially writers like bnflan who are drawing over two million readers to the site ..?

But maybe I’m being too cynical. Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Blind Assassin (amongst many others) is a big fan of Wattpad. In a Guardian article from 2012 she says: “Our generation in the west was lucky. We had ready made gateways. We had books, paper, teachers,, schools and libraries. But many in the world lack these luxuries. How do you practice without such tryout venues? Without a piano, how do you learn to play the piano? How can you write without paper, and read without books? … Wattpad opens the doors and enlarges the view in places where the doors are closed and the view is restricted. And somewhere out there in Wattpadland, a new generation is testing its wings.”

So perhaps you’d best take a look, and make your own mind up. When it comes to improving technique and building up a fan base, Wattpad may just be the place for you.

Keep on writing!phil-blog-sig

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